Gluten-Free Stuffed Shells with Vegan Ricotta are a must if you are looking for a quick, family-friendly meal. Perfect for busy weeknights, but fancy enough for a special occasion, this recipe is easy to prep and versatile. Plus, discover our favorite gluten-free pasta shell brand that makes this dish a delightful experience every time!
A fancier version of our creamy gluten free vegan alfredo pasta recipe!
Remember when finding tasty gluten-free pasta felt like searching for a needle in a haystack? When you did come across a 10-dollar package it would either clump together or be hard and chewy!
Well, let me tell you, times have changed, and our weeknight dinners are about to get a whole lot better. Over the years (I've been gluten-free for almost a decade now), I've seen a pasta revolution unfold.
These new pasta varieties are total game-changers, cooking up just like regular pasta, holding sauces like a champ, and staying firm for baked recipes. And since then we have been pasta lovers once again! Thank goodness because, with 3 kids at home, healthy pasta recipes are our go-to family pleaser, like our veggie-loaded gluten-free pasta.
So, buckle up and get ready to dive into our gluten free stuffed shells, they are simply amazing and perfect for the whole family!
👪Why This Recipe Works
- Quick and easy: An easy gluten free pasta recipe that comes together in no time, giving you more precious moments with your family.
- Healthy and satisfying: Made with fresh ingredients, our homemade vegan ricotta offers a creamy sauce that's both healthy and delicious.
- Meal prep-friendly: This dish can easily be incorporated into your meal prep routine, making your life even easier.
- Leftovers for days: Not only is it scrumptious, but it keeps well. So go ahead and double the recipe for later.
- Versatile: Vegan ricotta is delicious layered in lasagna, thinned out for a creamy pastor used as a dip (check out our gluten free and vegan lasagna recipe!)
🥒For Picky Eaters: Patricia's Tip
With 3 boys at home (not all being gluten-free) it is often hard to create a recipe they all love. This is why I love this recipe
- Customizable: This recipe is versatile and can be adjusted easily. You can unstuff a shell and serve the vegan ricotta on the side, or change up the spices to suit your family.
- Kid-friendly: The familiar pasta shape and creamy sauce make this a familiar dish to try.
- Veggie dipping: My little one loves dipping his veggies in the ricotta, so I often serve the shells plain with the ricotta on the side.
- Flavorful, but not overwhelming: The dish boasts a delicious taste without overpowering, ensuring it appeals to both adventurous and cautious eaters alike.
Our Ricotta gluten free stuffed shells were created with kids in mind. But remember that every child is unique, if you are looking for tips on picky eating be sure to check out our tips and recipes for picky eater post.
Our gluten-free stuffed shells use simple ingredients to create a delicious creamy pasta recipe! You can also make the fresh ricotta ahead of time and save some for dishes like lasagna, dips, or creamy sauces.
You can check out our creamy tofu ricotta recipe here for tips but I also included it in this post.
Here is what you will need:
- Gluten free jumbo shells: Check out the gluten-free tips section below on selecting the best brand! You want large shells for this recipe.
- Marinara pasta sauce: Adds rich, flavorful depth to the dish. Make sure you look at the ingredients list to ensure it is gluten-free.
- Extra-firm tofu: Creates the creamy vegan ricotta that's satisfying and versatile and add some extra protein to this dish.
- Fresh Dill: Fresh herbs always bring a touch of freshness and brighten the flavors.
- Fresh Garlic: Enhances the overall taste of the ricotta with its savory aroma.
- Fresh Lemon: A splash of citrus to balance and elevate the flavors of the tofu ricotta. Add in some lemon zest for a creamy lemon ricotta pasta recipe.
- Nutritional yeast: Offers a cheesy, nutty flavor boost while providing essential nutrients to the tofu ricotta.
- Salt and Pepper: Just a pinch to season and bring out the best in all the ingredients.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: For that added flavor!
To ensure your gluten free stuffed shells cook perfectly:
- Avoid overcooking: Keep an eye on the cooking time to prevent your vegan gluten-free pasta from turning mushy.
- Rinse after draining: This step helps avoid stickiness and improves the overall texture.
- Pre-boil before baking: Check the package instructions, however, I found that for optimal results, it is best to boil the shells until al dente. Even if the package suggests they're oven-ready.
- Use store-bought sauce: If you are pressed for time, opt for a high-quality store-bought sauce to cut down on prep time.
- Make ahead: Prepare the tofu ricotta in advance and store it in the fridge. Or prepare the entire recipe stopping at step 4 (baking) and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Keep these suggestions in mind to master your gluten-free pasta dishes and delight your family!
With only a handful of ingredients even beginner chefs can master this easy vegan gluten-free stuffed shells recipe with these easy cooking instructions:
Step 1: Prepare the vegan ricotta:
Prepare your vegan ricotta. Simply place all the ingredients for fresh ricotta in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Step 2: Boil the gluten free pasta shells
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Boil a large pot of salted water, and add the pasta shells. Cook pasta for 3-5 minutes, until slightly soft and pliable. Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent overcooking.
Step 3: Assemble!
To a mixing bowl add the tomato sauce and ½ cup of water. This will help ensure your gluten free stuffed shells doesn't dry out.
Then in an oven-safe pan, spread 1 cup of tomato sauce to cover bottom of baking dish. Next, arrange the pasta shells on top, open side up. Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the tofu ricotta. Then, drizzle the remaining marinara sauce over the shells.
Step 4: Bake your gluten free stuffed shells
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the gluten free shells are fully cooked and golden on top. Take care to not overcook or the shells will dry out. You can add a bit more tomato sauce if your shells are not cooking and drying out.
Enjoy this family favorite dish filled with fresh ingredients and a creamy sauce that's perfect for meal prep or a satisfying weeknight dinner.
🤔 Best Gluten Free Shells & Cooking Tips
Gluten-Free Stuffed Shells can be a delightful addition to your family meals, especially when you choose the right pasta. Here are some tips I have learned to ensure your dish turns out perfectly every time:
- Top Brand Picks: While I've had good results with Italpasta, but my personal favorite is Tinkyada pasta for its consistency and quality. I'm also a fan of Jovial's products, though I haven't tried their pasta shells yet.
- Look for Rice-Based Shells: In my experience, rice-based shells are easier to handle and offer a softer texture akin to regular pasta.
- Pre-Bake Every Time: Even if you find oven-ready shells, I recommend pre-baking them. This step prevents overly long baking times and keeps the shells from drying out.
- Avoid Overboiling: Be cautious not to overboil your gluten free shells. Overcooked pasta can turn mushy, losing that desirable al dente texture.
🥬Substitutions & Variations
Here are some substitution suggestions for our gluten free pasta shells and creamy ricotta recipe:
- Tofu ricotta substitute: If you're not a fan of tofu, you can use store-bought vegan ricotta or try making your own with cashews or almonds (be mindful of nut allergies).
- Pasta shell substitute: If you're unable to find gluten-free pasta shells or prefer a different shape, try using gluten-free penne, fusilli, or even lasagna noodles as an alternative. You won't be able to stuff them but you can still layer the sauce, noodles, and tofu ricotta (more like a casserole).
Now for some variations and leftover ideas:
- Spinach ricotta mixture: Add thawed frozen or fresh spinach (or basil) to the tofu ricotta mixture for an extra boost of nutrients and flavor.
- Make it cheesy: For an extra kick of flavor sprinkle some vegan cheese, parmesan cheese, or shredded mozzarella cheese on top.
- Lasagna: Use the tofu ricotta and sauce as a base for a delicious gluten-free and vegan lasagna. Layer gluten-free lasagna noodles, tofu ricotta mixture, and marinara sauce, and bake until bubbly and golden.
- Creamy ricotta pasta alternative: Transform the tofu ricotta into a creamy lemon ricotta sauce by adding more oat milk. Use this sauce in place of the marinara for a deliciously creamy pasta dish.
Experiment with these variations to create a dish that perfectly suits your taste buds and dietary preferences!
🥡Storage and reheating
Fridge: Cover the ricotta stuffed pasta shells with foil or place them in a sealed airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy them within this time frame for optimal taste and texture.
Reheating: When you are ready to reheat, simply place your gluten free pasta recipe into a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Alternatively, you can reheat them in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until warmed.
Freezing: We don't recommend freezing this dish, as the texture of the tofu ricotta may become grainy upon thawing. This recipe is best enjoyed fresh or within a few days of refrigeration.
Remember, as with most recipes, these ricotta-stuffed gluten free pasta shells are best served fresh but can still be enjoyed as leftovers!
🧠How This Recipe Impacts Your Brain
- Gluten free stuffed shells: This recipe is ideal for kids with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. We learned the hard way that maintaining a gluten-free diet can help reduce symptoms and support overall health. And considering the brain-gut connection this can have an indirect effect on better cognitive function and mental well-being (1,2).
- Tofu: As a plant-based protein, tofu provides amino acids that help build neurotransmitters essential for communication between brain cells (3).
- Nutritional yeast: Rich in B vitamins, including B12, which is crucial in maintaining nerve cell health and cognitive function (4). This is an excellent addition to vegan diets because of its B12 content.
- Dill, garlic, and lemon: These ingredients contain bioactive compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, protecting brain cells from oxidative stress and inflammation (5,6).
Serve this easy gluten free stuffed shells dish, backed by research, to support your family's brain health.
🥣More Gluten Free Recipes
If you are looking for more delicious gluten free weeknight dinner recipes be sure to check out these:
- High Protein Gluten-Free Meatballs
- Gluten-free Meatless Sheppard Pie
- 12 Epic Vegan Recipes For Non Vegans
- Fluffy Gluten Free Eggless Waffles
We'd be thrilled to hear your thoughts! Drop a comment below and let us know how it turned out. Your feedback means the world to us. 🌟 Don't forget to leave a star rating – it helps others discover this family favorite too!
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Gluten-Free Stuffed Shells with Vegan Ricotta (Family Fav)
- 1 Food processor
- 4 cups tomato sauce
- ½ cup water
- 1 package pasta shells gluten free
- 1 extra firm tofu see notes
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup oat milk or soy
- 1 bunch dill
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Prep your tofu by removing it from its package and wrapping it in a clean kitchen towel (or paper towel) to remove any excess liwuid.
- To a food processor (or blender) add all your ricotta ingredients except the milk. Start blending and then slowly add in your oat milk paying attention to the texture. You want a creamy texture but not runny.
Make the Gluten Free Pasta Shells
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Boil a large pot of salted water, and add the pasta shells. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until slightly soft and pliable. Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent overcooking.* do not overcook the shells
- To a small mixing bowl, add your tomato sauce and ½ cup of water. This will help your pasta bake without drying out.
- In an oven-safe pan, spread 1 cup of tomato sauce mixture to the bottom of the pan. Then arange the pasta shells on top, open side up.
- Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of tofu ricotta. Drizzle the remaining 2 ½ cups of tomato sauce over the shells.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the shells are fully cooked and golden on top.
- Lebwohl, B., Sanders, D. S., & Green, P. H. R. (2018). Coeliac disease. Lancet, 391(10115), 70-81.
- Cryan, J. F., & Dinan, T. G. (2012). Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 13(10), 701-712.
- Institute of Medicine. (2005). Dietary reference intakes for energy, carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids, cholesterol, protein, and amino acids. National Academies Press.
- Allen, L. H. (2009). How common is vitamin B-12 deficiency? The American journal of clinical nutrition, 89(2), 693S-696S.
- Kumar, G. P., & Khanum, F. (2012). Neuroprotective potential of phytochemicals. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 6(12), 81-90.
- Serafini, M., Peluso, I., & Raguzzini, A. (2010). Flavonoids as anti-inflammatory agents. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 69(3), 273-278.